31 October 2021

Happy Halloween

 I have had my little great niece to stay this week and on Friday I made my first halloween pumpkin lantern, with her help of course.

29 October 2021

My Grandfather, GV Turner in uniform

Following on from Monday's blog about my Grandfather's service during World War One, I found some more photos of him during that time of his life.
       Going by the cap badge, this one and the one below, were when he was with the Suffolk Yeomanry. On the left there are cannons on wheels at the back of the photo above, and a large horse on the right, I wonder if that is a Suffolk Punch? He would have been use to working with Suffolk Punch's on his father's farm before the war.

He is second on the left in the one below.

And these two are when he was with the Royal Munster Fusiliers, again from the cap badge, in the one on the right and the one on the left there is a shamrock on the pith helmet.


27 October 2021

Northumberland Sea Coal

 I mentioned a few weeks ago, after a visit to Alnmouth Beach, sea coal. I gathered some after each visit I have made to the beach, and here is the little pile I have of it. 

I first heard about sea coal from a Geocache, I am not sure you will be able to open that link, so I have added my own photographs and will summarise the text from the site.

Along the beach there are swathes of fine black material, some are just the size of grains of sand, others are much bigger, as you can see from my photographs. These black deposits are mostly sea coal and some may even be jet.

Sea coal is like no other type of coal. In appearance it's sparkling clean and shining jet black, fist size chunks are like large black diamonds.  In the fireplace it can be ignited by heating with the very minimum amount of kindling.  It appears on beaches because storms churn up water above exposed seams, it breaks off and the action of the waves wears down the sharp edges leaving a rounded pebble of coal.  This is called weathering.

The coal seams of some of the coal mines extended out under the North Sea and although it was very good coal it did not have the properties of sea coal. When we first started (mid 1990’s) coming up to Northumberland on holiday there were still some of these under sea mines.  We saw one at Ellington  I think it must have been.  I can remember seeing an overhead conveyor belt with coal coming inland on it, it was truly amazing.  We had never seen anything like it and the sand on the beach was black.

Mined coal must first be heated to a relatively high temperature before it will give off gas that will ignite.  When mined coal is completely spent there will be a fair amount of residual ash.  The process of combustion of mined coal also generates a considerable amount of smoke and soot.  Hence the nickname of Auld Reekie bestowed on the town of Edinburgh before the days of North Sea oil. 

Sea coal has quite different properties. When sea coal is first heated it enters a semi liquid stage and bubbles as its gases ignite. It burns with an extremely hot flame and produces a clean flame that gives off a far greater amount of heat than mined coal. Burning so cleanly there is very little residual ash or chimney soot or smoke. When the fire has finally burned itself out, what's left in the fireplace is only a very small amount of powder. I haven’t tried this yet, but think I should, just to see it.

This is one of the lumps that split open. 

25 October 2021

First World War Army Records

In the summer I have signed up to view online, eight lectures run jointly by the Suffolk Archives and the University of Suffolk, called Suffolk at War, running from September to December.  The second lecture was about the Suffolk Regiment, which reminded me that my Grandfather served in the Regiment during the First World War. The lecturer talked about each of the battalions, how they were formed and where they were based/sent during the War. 

This is a record of part of his service, his discharge documents. It is possible to obtain copies of the records of the Men who served in the First World War, if the paper records have survived, (many were destroyed during the Second World War), from various online websites, I got my Grandfather's from Ancestry, there is a fee to obtain them.


He joined up on 7 Feb 1915 at Ely, Cambridgeshire, and joined the 2/1 Suffolk Yeomanry for 4 years or DW (Duration of War), then transferred to the 1st Suffolk Regiment on 30 Sep 1916 and then on the 9 Oct 1916, he was transferred to the Royal Munster Fusiliers and posted to the 7th (Service) Battalion.

He was with the 3rd Suffolk’s when they embarked at Devonport 15 Sep 1916
Disembarked Salonika 30 Sep 1916 
Embarked Salonika 9 Sep 1917
Disembarked Alexandria 11 Sep 1917
Date of Transfer on 26 Feb 1919 to Class F Army Reserve.

There are also websites that give details of where regiments and battalions served during conflicts and in peace time, I have briefly looked at some. I have found that The Long, Long Trail site has lots of info about the First World War. 

This postcard photo with the writing on the back, and going by the date, was maybe taken after he had completed his basic training.

I would like to find out more about what was happening at the places mentioned in the form above when he was there.  With so much available online now, maybe a winter time job.

22 October 2021

Worst. Idea. Ever

This is the second book I mentioned a while ago when my little great niece stayed with me in the summer and I missed the mobile library visit, I was surprised to find that the driver had left me two books in the porch.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to it.

The books were by two authors I had not heard of or read before, They were: Quite Ugly one Morning by Christopher Brookmye and Worst. Idea. Ever by Jane Fallon. I have read both and enjoyed them.  

I have been looking through my photos to see if I can find one that illustrates one of my bad ideas to go along with the title of the book.  Needless to say I couldn't really find anything, I suppose I didn't keep or take photos of bad ideas. 

These photos were taken in October and December1994, when I was on a six month tour of the Ascension Island.
 Dew Pond on the way up Green Mountain.
Dew Pond is at the top of the mountain, but there are no views over the island, as the top is covered with a bamboo forest.

I don't think it was a bad idea to walk up to the top of Green Mountain on the Island back then, but definitely would be now!!  The top two photos were taken a day or two before I left the Island and I remember I throw away all the clothes I was wearing as they were caked in mud. 

Worst. Idea. Ever is about the friendship of Georgia and Lydia. Lydia starts an online business and Georgia wants to help, but knows that she cannot do it in person so she sets up a fake Twitter account, (I wouldn't know how to set a real one!!). Oh dear and then the trouble starts.

It is divided into two parts, there is a big reveal at the start of part two, I guessed it was coming and it did partly spoil the rest of the book for me. There are other twists and turns I did not guess, so that kept me reading.  I liked the book, it is funny in places, it was an easy read and all the loose ends are tied up at the end, not really a happy ending but good enough. 

I have found out a bit about Jane Fallon, she was a TV producer before turning to writing.  Worst. Idea. Ever is her 11th novel, and her partner is Ricky Gervais.  I have heard him talk about her in interviews. 

20 October 2021

Painting of a Sampan in Hong Kong Harbour

My younger brother joined the army straight from school.  While in the Army he married and their children were born overseas. His eldest child was born in Hong Kong, in the mid 1980's and was my mothers first grandchild.  As you can imagine mum was desperate to go to see her grandchild.  Flights were very expensive and it was tough for her to find the money to go.  

Somehow we found out about Courier Flights. Courier company's paid for the flights of people to take parcels/packages to overseas destinations.  Mum was only allowed to take hand luggage, which was hard for her as she usually packed everything including the kitchen sink!!  

From memory she did not actually see or touch the package, or even know what was in it.  I think she had to meet a representative of the company at the airport and that was it.  The package was to be her 'luggage' that went in the hold. I suppose in those days it was cheaper to send small packages that way and quicker too.  I don't expect it is allowed to be done now.

The painting is one she bought back for me from her trip. I think she must have got it framed here as it would not have fitted in her case. It is a lovely painting and was one of the first I put up here. I am not sure if she saw it being painted, but it has Chinese characters in the top left corner that spell my name, which were added by the artist. 

18 October 2021

The mouse is still visiting

Mara asked, on Friday, about the mouse, he is still visiting and eating. 

He is in the box at the begining of this film, you should see his tail first of all.  

And so is the cat!!!!! 
I didn't catch it on film getting out of the box this time, but it wasn't there in the morning.

Here it is again this morning.

15 October 2021

Adapt the feeding station 2

After the incident with the cat getting in the feeding station, I have been trying some different methods of feeding the hedgehog and not the mouse or the cat. 

The first was just trying to block the entry so the cat could not move the brick or the box itself.


The cat has tried to get in the box but not succeeded with the big stone outside and the brick inside, but the mouse is still going in and climbing over the brick.  No sign of the hedgehog.

Next suggestion was to put a tray of water in front of the entrance leaving enough room for the hedgehog to get in, and as apparentley, cats hate getting there feet wet,  (proof of this fact, if needed, from one of the blogs I read, thank you Tigger), they would not go in.  So I just moved the bird bath!! Also left the brick out too.

It works!!! And on the first night, (7-8 Oct) the hedgehog was back and pretty early too.  The evenings are really starting to draw in. It had other things on its mind besides eating.

It was back again at 10.45pm, then the cat arrived not looking very pleased with my new design.

The hog came back at just after 3am and again after 4am, but I did not see it going in the box.

And on the evening of the 8th, success.

It has been back another couple of times this week, but have not seen it going in the box again, yet.

13 October 2021

Books collected from the mobile Library

I have not got the hang of ordering books from the library online and collecting them from the mobile library, yet.  I have had one or two one month and then none the next month or two and when I look at my request list on my library Dashboard, some of the ones I have requested have been cancelled. I cannot see why this is.

Yesterday the mobile library called and I got these:

Look's like the library has been storing them up and Simon the van driver said I had nearly cleared him out!!  I have said before how wonderful I think he, and the mobile library service are. He offered to carry the books back to my house for me.

Here is a list of them:

Ryder, Kate

Beneath the Cornish Skies

Johnson, Jane

The Sea Gate

Marchant, Clare

The Queens Spy

Marston, Edward

Rage of the Assassin

Carr, JL

A Month in the Country

Buckley, Fiona

Forest of Secrets

Betts, Charlotte

The Fading of the Light

Rothschild, Hannah

House of Trelawney

Beaton, M C

Death of Yesterday

Fein, Louise

The Hidden Child

Griffiths, Elly

The Postscript Murders

French, Tana

The Wych Elm

Stibbe, Nina   

Reasons to be Cheerful

They will keep me quiet for the next month or two!!   

I am going to start with MC Beaton's Death of Yesterday, it is a Hamish Macbeth murder mystery and will be a quick read and I will feel good that I have finished one of them at least.

I'll let you know how many I have read before the van calls again.

11 October 2021

Adapt the feeding station

Before my recent trip to Suffolk, I thought I had better find cover for feeding the hedgehog, my niece very kindly volunteered.  I had given her instructions, but on the morning I left I checked the camera and found the cat in the box

I began to worry if the cat tried again while I was away and as my niece wasn't coming over until the evening, what would happen if the cat came again and couldn't get out of the box, so decided to put the brick inside the box and a big stone in front of the entrance so the cat couldn't get into it and I asked my niece not to come over to put food out.  

When I got back I had to think about how best to keep feeding the hedgehog, but stop the cat getting in the box. I tried putting the brick back outside and the stone inside, no sign of the cat, the hog came briefly one night but didn't go near the box, but the mouse was still coming and eating the food. 

Yam sent me a link to the Hedgehog Street website about cats vs hedgehogs, in case the cats were keeping the hogs away, apparently not. Which is good as I would like the cats to keep coming and hopefuly eventually scare the mice away.  But there were some more ideas on that forum to try to prevent the cat, and the mouse too I hope, eating the food before the hedgehog.  I'll have a go at some of them and report back later in the week.

08 October 2021

Quite Ugly one Morning

I mentioned a while ago that when my little great niece stayed with me in the summer I missed the mobile library visit and was surprised to find that the driver had left me two books in the porch.  

The books were by two authors I had not heard of or read before, They were: Quite Ugly one Morning by Christopher Brookmye and Worst. Idea. Ever by Jane Fallon. 

Edinburgh Castle Drawbridge

Quite Ugly one Morning is set in Edinburgh and follows Jack Parlabane, an investigative journalist, after he stumbles into the aftermath of a gruesome murder.  The first chapter describes this and is pretty graphic, the language in the book is pretty ripe too, but is worth by passing that if you can, as it is a very good book, dark but funny too.  

Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh

The book was written in the early-mid 1990's and has political element of the period to it.  The edition I read (2013) has a new introduction by the author, he comments on the fact that the book has been in print for 15 years and continues: 'it struck me as all the more surpring that my debut novel should prove so enduring, as the biggest pitfall likely to face a work of political satire is that it can look very dated once the landscape has changed'.   I believe it is still in print today too, so does that show politics hasn't really changed in the last 25 years!!

It has been made into a TV film starring James Nesbit as Jack, there are some changes in the film, but still pretty good.  It is available on YouTube.

I did say I had not heard of or read any of his books before, but I have, well partly.  He writes under the  pseudonym Ambrose Parry with his wife Dr Marisa Haetzman and I have read The Art of Dying and listened to A Corruption of Blood.  These are the second and third in a series of historical novels set in mid 19th century Edinburgh.  Dr Will Raven and Sarah Fisher work for Dr James Young Simpson, yes the person who first started using chlorofrom on humans. Will and Sarah investigate various murders, usually gruesome ones. There is a lot of historical fact in the books and the relationship between Will and Sarah is intriguing, especially Sarah's desire to obtain medical training. I enjoyed both and must really get the first one to see how it all started.


Suffolk Libraries have been doing author interviews online, including recently one with Ambrose Parry.  They talk about how they write together and about the new book.  It was recorded and is also available on YouTube.  They have interviewed several other authors over the last year including Peter James, Peter May, Ellie Griffiths, Bernard Cornwall and Nicci Reichs. If you search on YouTube for 'Suffolk Libraries' you should find the complete list. 

06 October 2021

Poor hedgehog

When I got back from Suffolk, I had a look at the camera and the first night I was away the hedgehog visited. 


Here it is walking around the box, maybe looking for the food, that wasn't there.  It is hard to see but it starts on the right of the box, goes around the back and reappears on the left.

At least it had a drink.

04 October 2021

Trip to Suffolk

A friend's, in Suffolk, father died at the begining of August and I had been humming and harring about going down for the funeral, which was held at the end of September.  I was mainly worried about the travelling and having to stop at service stations, more than finding somewhere to stay in Suffolk.  I have several friends in Suffolk that would have put me up but still feel that is a bit presumptuous at the moment.  

I finally made the decision to go down on the Sunday evening after having some trips out for the Heritage Open Day weekend, more about that another time. I managed to book a local hotel for three nights, leaving here on the Thursday and coming back on Sunday.  

The journey down was a bit long, there were several hold ups in the first 60miles, and then lots of caravans and camper vans, not so many lorry's!!! I stopped about half way at Blyth Services, for a break and some lunch. They had several lots of hand gel about and there was someone cleaning the entry/exit doors.  I didn't buy a cup of tea, as I would usually do, and had made a pack up lunch so I didn't have to stay in the building for long. 

The funeral was on the Friday morning, my friend's father was a Quaker and the service was held along the lines of a Quaker Meeting.  The main thing being there are periods of silence and members of the meeting can stand up and say something if they wish. One chap stood and recited The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis.  I had never heard this before, but please read it if you do not know it.

In the morning I had heard on the TV news about the possible shortage of fuel and queues at petrol stations, I did not really think anything about it until after the funeral when I went to see my geocaching friend and her neighbour told us about queues at the local stations.  Needless to say I was now worried about getting fuel and getting back north. I did  not sleep very well that night, but decided to go to the nearest station in the morning.  It was the local Asda at Ipswich, there was a queue, but fortunately they were really well organised, with plenty of staff on duty directing cars to the pumps. 

I am afraid I didn't take very many photos of the days in Suffolk, but here are a few.
On the left of this one you can just see the chimney for the Great Blakenham Incinerator

 Since 2014 all general refuse from Suffolk households is taken there to be burnt and made into electricity. I was looking for a geocache here, in the hedge, but a couple walking their dog came by and started chatting.  They told me that there is outline planning permission for up to 300 houses to be built on that field.

In the distance of this one you can just see Shrubland Hall.  According to this site The Hall and estate has been left abandoned since 2016. So sad to see, if I win the EuroMillions Lotto I will buy it!!

My elder brother, Philip worked on the estate for over thirty years, before he had to stop through ill health. He was awarded a Long Service Certificate at the Suffolk Show in 2002. 

I  had arranged to meet up with my geocaching friend on the Saturday for a day out collecting some caches. I made a list of ones to visit, again no photos except this one, which wasn't on my list, but my friend said we should go and get it as she got a first to find there. 

It's not me up there by the way, but the cache is up there. The structure is a Type FW3/23 pillbox, constructed c1940. We had a great day together, just like old times, and with the last find of the day I reached 2000 finds, so good job my friend said she would go up the tree for me.

I popped to the village I lived in for nearer 50years before the move north, mainly to go to the churchyard to see the graves of my mother and brother.  I put some flowers on the graves.  I saw a couple of ladies who were decorating the church for the Harvest Festival on Sunday and then took a little walk near my old house and saw another couple who we knew and had a chat with them too.  It was lovely to catch up with them all. 
Again I didn't take any photos but the Vicar put these on the village Facebook page. 

My return journey on the Sunday, was uneventful and went very smoothly, I stopped at the Blyth Services again, a bit busier than on the way down, but again I had a packed lunch, (very kindly provided by my geocaching friend) so didn't have to stay in the building for long. I was glad to get back.  I really enjoyed the visit back to Suffolk and will not hesitate to do it again, as long as the wider situation does not get bad again.

01 October 2021

Feeding time for hedgehogs and others

 I had not seen the hedgehog for a week, then he called again on the 19th.

Then this happened on the morning of the 23rd. 

I am not sure what to say about this, I had to watch it three or four times as I could not believe it. 

In case you are worried the cat was alright, check the time on the picture.